North of the town of Antelope is Kent, Oregon. This abandoned café is just a few feet away from the shoulder of Highway 218. The trucks speed past and the days when people stopped for a bite to eat are long forgotten.
When I first photographed this spot in 1993 there were large white letters on the roof that called out to the passing drivers “EAT”! For me, it has always been the “Eat Café”. Over the past 20 years this building has continued to decay. The roof now has open places between the shingles. It is only a matter of time before the elements start to claim even more of the structure.
The front faces West if you’re planning on some photos while passing through. It’s a great spot to drop by in the evening as the warm light reveals the wonderful texture.
Straddling Highway 218 in north-central Oregon, you’ll find the town of Antelope, Oregon. I’ve visited Antelope a couple times before and made sure I would have time to wander around the town when passing through in July 2013.
When photographing the buildings and details of Antelope, I’ve always found the town to be exceptionally quiet. Few people have passed by and only the occasional vehicle has broken that silence with the hum of its tires on the asphalt.
The photographic appeal of the town lies in the school and playground. I’ve never been there on a weekday during the school-year. I can only assume that at some point the playground is filled with the laughter and calls of the children that live in the area. That’s all fine. I quite like it on a hot summer afternoon when the dry grass yellows in the sun.
Though some people may find it seems desolate, it is being maintained – witness the flag proudly flying and the playground equipment that is kept in good repair.
The swings emit the occasional squeak, brought on by the hot wind blowing through town. I have photographed this school on black and white infrared film back in the mid-1990s. The film was unforgiving – requiring loading the Hasselblad film backs in a changing bag, lest it get fogged.
I’ll take the convenience of digital any day. Maybe some people think it’s a compromise and somehow lessens the value of the images. I’d rather explore the area and look for more angles that capture my impression of the town.
Around back of the school was a fire engine from the 1940s. (In my complete guess as to age.) The dry climate seems to preserve items like this. On the west coast, the damp climate and cool winters would see a vehicle like this be consumed by moss and mold.
While peering at the dash through the driver’s window, I spotted my daughter in the distance having a look inside the school. Maybe a scene devoid of people isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I rather like her in the background.